Thursday, June 25, 2015


A few days ago, I was finishing up my workout with some cardio on the recumbent bike. As I was getting close to the end, a young lady walked over and began her cardio work on the Elliptical Machine. What caught my attention was what she wore, and believe it or not, not her youth or attractiveness. Her workout gear had in very large bright lettering the phrase "I Hate Running". I think if I had finished, I might have gone over and let her know that running loves her.

Well, it didn't happen because she got going at a pretty good clip and I don't want to look like a creep.

Made me think about what I would wear if I thought of expressing my opinion on various exercises. It didn't take too long because if I wore such a t-shirt it would feature the words "I Hate Burpees".

Well, maybe hate is a bit strong. Well, probably not. I have mixed feelings about burpees. One feeling is, I despise them, another is, I avoid them and a third, I would rather do anything else before doing burpees.

This might be one of the brilliant parts of the Skimble workouts, there is always the risk of doing Burpees. Last year, I was part of a team that did a series which included burpees. I did dread them, but I went on and did them. Just a few weeks ago, I did another workout that included, burpees. Yes I decided to do a couple of sets of burpees. I have to say, it is a great way to work up a sweat.

Doing a search of images of burpees contain a large number under the catagory of "Hating Burpees".

I did my research and discovered burpees are actually a very efficient and effective exercise. I also learned about the origin and reason for burpees. I didn't realize that someone decided to invent this form of exercies. In fact:

According to Oxford Dictionaries Online, the exercise was named in the 1930s for American physiologist Royal H. Burpee, who developed the burpee test. He earned a PhD in applied physiology from Columbia University in 1940 and created the "burpee" exercise as part of his PhD thesis as a quick and simple way to assess fitness.[1] The exercise was popularized when the United States Armed Services adopted it as a way to assess the fitness level of recruits when the US entered WWII. Consisting of a series of the exercises performed in rapid succession, the test was meant to be a quick measure of agility, coordination and strength.

So we can thank Doctor Royal H. Burpee for bringing this to the world. I hope he got a good grade and I hope part of his presentation and defense of his thesis was to do the burpees.

I'm not going to pretend and say I'm getting the burpee and are developing a love for them, but I can see that it is an important exercise and I should do them, because they will not hurt my knees for running. As for the style, I understand there is a burpee style that doesn't the jumping at the end. Could be just as effective without the pain.

As always, I went to YouTube to see what videos are out there and I found this:

I'm not going to be a total convert to the Burpee, but as I read more about them, I realize I should incorporate them into my weekly workout.

To conclude:

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Dr. Cool is Cool

Last year I finally got bit by the injury bug, big time. I went through a time when I had problems with my right ankle, my right groin and my left knee. Yes the trifecta of problems. I did cut back on my running and concentrating more on biking. I know what part of the issue was, a number of years ago I fractured both parts of the right ankle and have had a few issues over the year. Even though I was riding, I did get a few runs in and even a few races.

Time passed and most of the problems did go away. The knee is basically healed, although I still get a time when I feel a bit stiff down there, but nothing the impedes anything. I consider where I was a year ago and realize that it's getting better.

One thing I did do was to purchase a Dr. Cool Ice Wrap. It has been great for the knee. When I purchased, I went for one size that was more for the ankle which was a small. It still works for the knee but I realize I will purchase a larger size.

As I write this, I should put in the disclaimer, I purchased this product and have not received anything in the way of remuneration to make this blog. I'm just discussing some of the products I use as part of my exercise and running program.

Dr. Cool makes products that are both for icing and for compression. As one of the pages on the website states:

Injuries happen, it’s just a part of having fun, but life does not need to slow down for you to get better. Wrap your bumps, bruises sprains and excuses in a Dr. Cool ice wrap. Dr. Cool is the first and only product to combine ice and compression in one flexible chemical-free injury wrap. Simply wet and freeze the Dr. Cool wrap for ice therapy … no ice packs or gels needed. Dr. Cool ice wraps are available in three sizes to provide ice and compression therapy in one convenient, flexible chemical-free ice wrap that goes everywhere you go!

It is simple to use as well, wet the wrap, place wrap in freezer, do what you need to do and come back in an hour. Pull it out of the freezer and then wrap. It has Velcro so it is easy to wrap around the part requiring the wrap. According to the advertisement, one can wrap and use during workout. Haven't tried and likely I'm not, since I prefer the after effect. As it is just pulled from the freezer it is still, but a few moments out and it will thaw enough that it can be tightened as required.

Quick opinion, it does work, it applies the 'ice' directly to the place of need. I usually have it on and stretch out the leg relaxing. I know that not having the wrap, the muscles and tendons of the knee would be very stiff, but after wearing the wrap for a couple of hours, the muscles and tendons are looser and there it not the discomfort afterwards. That to me the main part of the wrap, it relaxes everything so there is not the tightness. It feels better and so afterwards I can move it without the stiffness. I have to say, I don't have the joint stiffness after working out. I do feel it, when doing things such as squats or burpees- I have to write a blog about burpees, by the way.

With the warmer weather, it has been very nice to put a cold wrap on any part of me, I didn't use it much during the winter, since it was winter and I more wanted to get warm. I noticed on the website they now sell apparel, something to consider.

I plan to keep using Dr. Cool, it meets the need, it works and it feels fine.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Robot Named Fred

I've already had a blog post about Skimble, which I called my favourite site. I've been a member for quite a few years and have grown to like the way it has helped my workout programs. As with a lot of things, the Internet and Social Media has brought about a change to exercise and working out, and I believe for the most part, it's been a good change. I'm not going to say it's perfect because the Internet is made up of people and we are certainly a flawed bunch.

I'm returning to the topic of exercise and social media by examining another site I enjoy and that is Fitocracy.

Fitocracy can be described as a site in which you record you workouts or exercises. As you post you gain points, after so many points, you increase your level. You can also make friends with other people who are posting and you can prop their workouts and they can prop yours. This is an important part of fitocracy. In many ways, it can be considered the definition of social media. But it's not just a place where you can log your workouts, it a place where you can share, interact and generally have a good time with other people. Let me say, the people of fitocracy are very interactive and chatty. Have a good workout, you'll get comments and props. Do you have a question about your workout or something you're doing. You will receive all sorts of advice and coaching. Do you have interests outside of exercise, there are forums and some of them are very active. Going through a hard time? You will receive words of encouragement from the people you have friended and other individuals. You can post your photographs and get encouraging words. It is a very positive place.

Joining is simple and straightforward, you also upload an image and you'll be at level 1. From there you start looking around and posting what you have done. If you've just finished cutting the grass, or moving some furniture, you can record the time and you will get points. Do some serious workouts, you will get more points. The more time or weights or reps you do, your points will increase. After a few more things, you will get the notice that you are now at a new level. You will get a badge announcing this great fact. Now you'll think of the next level. I should point out each level takes more points to increase to the next one and the next one. You will notice that a few more badges start showing up on your feed. Perhaps you've run for 5 kilometers, you record it and another badge appears. Or perhaps you start proping other people, you reach a certain number there will be a badge. You get on a quest, you have to do so many different styles of exercises, for example, another badge. Then you will notice people start to prop you and give you support and cheers.

You turn around and do the same and soon you're having a lot of fun. While you can see where you are in points with other members, you look more at what it will take to reach the next level. You get swept up into the momentum. You soon notice that there's a lot of very busy people working out, and some of them may have challenges with what they do. Then you need a coffee and you notice there's a group for coffee. You check it out, realize you need to 'join' and discover there are a lot of people who need a coffee. Plus they post pictures of their favourite brews and motivational posters. I should say that motivational posters seem to be very important.

What you won't find, at least I haven't is someone being a jerk. I suspect jerks exist but if they are there, you probably won't meet them, after all, how can you troll someone who's just done a 2 minute wall plank?

As you look around you might notice that there is the possibility of becoming a "hero". A hero is one who has paid an annual fee to do this. The site is now advertisement free, and you now can take on a title. You might notice them under the names. You can also enter into duals with other members, You can challenge another member to something, anything for fun points and bragging rights. You can also get regular reports and be able to private message each other. The cost of this is $45.00 US.

Another thing you might notice or get notifications about is the various coaching plans. You can turn Fitocracy into a personal coach to use the plans to get some help and guidance in doing some workouts. Again there is a cost, but this is how it monetizes the site. This is worth looking at and learning more of what is available.

There is also a store in which you can buy your fitocracy tees and technical shirts as well as accessories.

You might notice when you record workout, a robot named Fred will show up and do the calculations. Who or what is this 'Fred' robot, you ask yourself and why is everything purple? Well Fred is the mascot and your friend. He is a fun little character that adds to the fun of Fitocracy.

I've had the pleasure of communicating with some of the people of Fitocracy and I was able to ask them a few questions. Before I post those questions and their answers, they gave me a link to this video. It will answer a lot of your questions: Now for the comments:

From Brian and myself ! 1) Besides recording workouts, it seems that the groups are an important aspect of being part of fitocracy. Yet these are more then forums and more then just exercise related. Why did you decide to include them and have they been a boon to the fitocracy experience? Groups have always been part of the Fitocracy design since the site's creation. There's a good number of people who join up with the intent to become healthier but no idea where to start or who to ask. Stop for a minute and think about how many trainers and fitness gurus are posting on the internet. That's a lot of confusing information to navigate. Our own personal experiences have led us to believe people respect expert opinions but they appreciate plain speak from others who are or were in their shoes. The social element of the site has been a tremendous incentive for our user base. You're not signing up for Fitocracy, you're becoming a Fito. You have friends who want to see you do well. 2) What is the future of fitocracy? What directions can you see happening? We started out as a workout tracker. Then, we implemented starter workouts for beginners. We've recently added training services for even more help. In each stage of development, we're expanding to be more inclusive and more supportive. Our users have always directed our development. We listen and adapt based on what they need and want. 3) How do you see social media helping with fitness and exercise? Social media has invigorated the fitness industry; it's made information more accessible and easier to digest and all that leads to people becoming excited about training ! Years ago, do you remember the Cathy and Garfield comics ? "Diet is a 4 letter word." or "Exercise is punishment for enjoying that cheesecake last night. " There was this commonly accepted attitude that health was hard, exercise was something to be endured and diet meant sacrifice. We're more connected now and there's more options out there than an hour on the stationary bike washed down with plain chicken and broccoli. Another great thing you get with sites like Fitocracy and Instagram is we're seeing more body and cultural diversity so there's so much variance now in health and fitness. We have a bellydancer group on the site, powerlifters, runners, etc--there's even collegiate fencers. Working out has expanded into finding something active that you love, doing it and being able to share that with others. Your friends aren't interested in hearing about your new kettlebell set you got for a steal? No problem, log onto Fitocracy. Fitos want to hear about it. 4) As I look around, the fitocrat is a busy person, do you think we're in a renaissance of fitness in our society. It's very interesting because since the 80s (when we were growing up so our first point of reference), every successive generation has had a wave of change in health and fitness. The 1980s were about the clothes, the 90s were all about making time at home. Do you remember those workout dvds--the 10 Minute Abs or something? Those Gazelle training machines or the ab rocker "Now you, too, can get a firm, toned midsection---while watching t.v. at home!" The millennium moved focus on to pushing yourself--go hard or go home and the ToughMudders and Spartan Runs,facing challenges. It's too early to say what this decade will be known for but, our hope with Fitocracy, is that we've sent out the message and promoted the idea that everyone can be healthy. If all you do is walk everyday, walk dammit, and we're going to prop you (Fitocracy's version of 'likes) and give you a badge because you've stuck with it. Maybe somewhere down the line, you'll find something else you can do. We'll prop that as well.

I have been emailing with Jen who is the community manager. She does squats and likes cat.

The statistics for the site is that there is approximately 1,000,000 members. Like all sites there are probably a percentage that aren't active, or were active a while ago but aren't so any more. Still there are a lot of people you can encounter and share your passion for working out with and give each other props.

It is fun and as they say, if you're not careful, you might end up getting in shape.

If you've decided you want to consider this site, I encourage you to sign up. Take the plunge and start posting your workouts. If you do, you can look for me, I'm RealPaul.

Fitocracy, it's purple, it has a Robot and it's a lot of fun.